Former Bayern Munich winger Julian Green says he is sure that football will challenge the established US sports for popularity in the coming years as young stars begin to make their own way in Europe.
The US international left the German champions, where he played under Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, to join Stuttgart in 2017, before signing for Greuther Furth of the 2. Bundesliga last summer.
He played a part in the team’s 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil, coming off the bench to become the youngest US goalscorer in a World Cup as his side was beaten in the last 16 by Belgium despite a heroic Tim Howard performance.
Green called the goal "the best experience of my career so far", one that his fellow US youngsters were unable to replicate this summer as the team failed to qualify for the World Cup.
"Football is getting bigger, but it’s not yet on a level with the NHL, NBA and NFL”, he told Goal and Spox. “But I'm sure that will change in the next few years.
"It's a good thing that many talented Americans like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent move to Europe and get educated at a young age."
Green, who grew up in Germany but holds a US passport, was a keen ice hockey player in his youth, playing for his hometown club before choosing to pursue a football career.
“Until I was eleven, I even played in the club at home in Miesbach," he said. "Then I had to decide - and chose football. In the NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning is my favorite club and I try to watch a lot of games, but of course that's not always possible with the time difference."
The winger played just twice in the Bayern first team under Guardiola, with much of his time in Bavaria being spent in the club’s reserve team and on loan at Stuttgart.
"Guardiola is an exceptional coach and tactically very good. I also got on well with him personally,” he said. “And his German speeches got better over time."
Green will be out to impress a new coach, Gregg Berhalter, who was officially named the U.S. national team's boss on Sunday.